After opening lower, Europe’s STOXX 600 nudged up 0.2 per cent despite weakness in German equities. Demand for safe-haven currencies remained strong.
Stocks fell after a US report that retail sales had dropped in December to their lowest since 2009 and by data on Chinese producer prices, which were little changed for a seventh straight month in January.
Germany’s main stock index, which is exposed to the Chinese economy because of its large number of exporters, was down 0.2 per cent by 0932 GMT. It had fallen as much as 0.5 per cent.
European car stocks, a bellwether for the continent’s economy, fell 1 per cent as sales dropped and the deadline approached for a US Commerce Department that could lead to the imposition of tariffs.
“After hot markets of late, a little bit of cold water has been poured on bourses over the last 24 hours,” said Deutsche Bank’s strategist Jim Reid.
The slow start in European shares reflected nerves across global equity markets. MSCI’s world equity index , which tracks shares in 47 countries, was flat.
Emerging markets were set for their first back-to-back weekly loss since late last year. The MSCIEF index of emerging market stocks dropped 0.8 per cent.
Investors in Asia took fright early after the US retail sales report. Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1 per cent as market in Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai all lost ground.
The two top US negotiators were due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping today, but no decision has been taken to extend a March 1 deadline for a deal.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet on Friday that he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had “productive meetings” with China’s Vice Premier Liu He.
The Japanese yen and other safe-haven currencies made gains as the market awaited developments in the trade talks. The dollar remained fairly robust in spite of the US retail figures, trading up 0.2 per cent at 97.1 against a basket of major currencies.
The euro was 0.2 per cent lower at US$1.1278 (RM4.61) and headed for a second week of losses. It is down by 1.7 per cent so far this year after discouraging economic data from the euro zone.
The 10-year US Treasuries yield fell to 2.6483 per cent, wiping out most of its rise this week.
Commodities diverged from wider market trends. Crude oil briefly reached 2019 highs above US$65 per barrel after Opec-led supply cuts and a bigger-than-expected cut by Saudi Arabia this week encouraged investors.
The global Brent benchmark last traded at US$64.75, up 18 cents, or 0.28 per cent, from the last close. It has risen 4.5 per cent this week. — Reuters
Source: The Malay Mail Online